What to do in the Island of San Andres?
San Andres is an island of Colombia located in the Caribbean. It is also known as "The sea of seven colors" because of the different hues of blue and green that its water has. It looks like a spectacular painting on the surface, but it gets even more fascinating when you explore life under it.
If you feel curious about these paradise beaches, you should check these tips before you come here:
Where to stay:
-Option 1: Resort:
I came for the first time to San Andres in 2016 with my family. We stayed in an all-inclusive resort, which was very nice and is a great option when traveling with a group of people of all ages (especially with kids). There are parks and special areas where they can be entertained. We chose Decameron Isleño, which is around US 300 per night per person. It included three meals a day in the restaurants, with a big variety of menus, unlimited drinks and cocktails, and three snacks during the day. The hotel is beautiful, the bedrooms are very comfortable and most of them have an awesome view of the beach. We had an amazing experience and that was one of our best vacations so far!
Here is the link of the hotel, and a picture of it:
The problem with all-inclusive resorts is that they can hurt the economy of the town. People in these types of places live merely from fishing and tourism. The customers of their small businesses are tourists, but the hotels include in their vacation packets everything that the natives sale. There are even mini-stores inside the hotels where people can buy swimsuits, flip-flops or souvenirs. There are also night shows with live music, which makes costumers being entertained all the time and not have to spend money anywhere else. This creates a very hard situation for the inhabitants of the island, who do not have too many opportunities for working doing a different activity.
Even though the hotels create jobs, just a group of people benefits from them, but the majority keep being unemployed. With this, I am not saying that people should never stay on resorts, but I consider that they should also try to support the families of these touristic places.
-Option 2: Airbnb:
This week I came back with my husband and we planned to spend five days here, from August 5th to 9th. This time, we decided to support the locals by staying at an Airbnb and eating at typical restaurants of the island. We hoped to spend more time exploring the island on our own, learn more about the culture and its traditions, try typical dishes and of course, make some friends on the road.
The Airbnb we arrived in was $60.00 per night.
The pro: We saved money!
The cons: The internet was terrible! The first day we could not find where to eat without using Google, we ended up eating potato chips and snacks at a little store. When we finally found restaurants, the food was not very good, it was expensive, and on top of everything, my husband got diarrhea.
What to do:
-Snorkel and Scuba Dive:
The main activity that people do in San Andres is to appreciate the submarine life. It is not necessary to dive too deep for appreciating the beauty of the colorful fish of different shapes, manta rays, among other marine animals. My husband and I even saw a black nurse shark while we were snorkeling! It was such a memorable moment!
I highly recommend taking a boat and going to Aquario, it is a cay that is 20 minutes away from the main beaches of the island. You will feel like walking on the water in the middle of the ocean, as a rocky surface makes the depth of the water be close to a meter. I have not been scuba diving yet, but I know that the deeper you go the more beautiful and exotic animals you will see.
Another cool experience can be to wear a diving helmet, that provides you with oxygen for 25 minutes while you are walking under the sea. You need to take into account that this activity is restricted for claustrophobic people, pregnant women, and kids under 12 years old.
Tip: Always wear water shoes! While you are in the water in San Andres, it is very important to protect your feet, as there are sharp rocks that can cut your skin, as well as sea urchins.
Cost of a round trip boat to Aquario Cay: Around $15.00 US dollars per person.
Cost of scuba diving: Around $53.00 dollars.
Aquanautas helmet: $32.00 dollars.
-Visit the Cave of the pirate Henry Morgan:
During the 16th century, San Andres was a territory where pirates used to arrive. The most famous one was Henry Morgan, who was born in Wales and spent a big portion of his life exploring and looting places around the Caribbean sea. He used a cave of 120 meters for hiding precious metals and stones that he stole. This place is now a mysterious museum with different attractions that tourists can explore.
Cost of the tour in the cave: $48.00
San Andres is one of those places that once you visit them you get the feeling of coming back again and again. It makes me feel peaceful, joyful and renewed. I get energized just by looking at the crystalline water, the giant palm trees on the white sand, and the blue lizards running among the shrubbery.
I encourage you to visit this paradise and enjoy all the things that it can offer to you!